Ken Sperry, retired from two decades in the Air Force, now drives charter buses and tour buses across the country. He says he wishes he could print whole stacks of pamphlets with the article “How Humankind Came To Be” printed on it, so that the many people he comes across on the job have a chance to discover the article that gave him so much hope for the country, and for the future.
“A lot of people probably have lost hope, they’ve lost hope in this life,” Mr. Sperry said. “For a lot of people … if [the article] gives them hope, it gives them insight into this life, maybe changes a thing or two, that is all worth it … I would like to have something to pass out.”
The article “How Humankind Came To Be” was written by Mr. Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, and published by The Epoch Times on the eve of Chinese New Year. Falun Gong, also called Falun Dafa, is a spiritual practice that was made public in China in 1990, which teaches the universal principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. It became immensely popular, with an estimated 100 million followers, but in 1999 the Chinese Communist Party utilized the entire state apparatus to launch a persecution campaign against Falun Gong.
“I read it several times, I read it just the other day to my wife. It’s good for the whole world. All mankind really needs to read that, no matter what religious background they come from,” said Mr. Sperry, who belongs to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“[I think] it can give them an opportunity to have insight of a spiritual moment in thinking, and meditate on it. I think it has the power to enlighten people’s minds, maybe [provide] a different angle on religion, life, morals,” Mr. Sperry said.
Mr. Sperry, born and raised and still living near Salt Lake City, Utah, said he has practiced one religion all his life and never felt the need to seek out other beliefs. When he read the article, he was delighted to see similar values to his own philosophies, and astounded that these beliefs were echoed from somewhere so far away from his church.
“It just clicked with me,” he said. “It was profound that someone would come up with the ideas without being from my church, coming from a different background around the world. It just did something to me. I really believe that everyone can benefit some way from the message and the spirit, and the spirit of the message.”
“It hit my soul,” he said.
“[Mr. Li] has a lot of insight and wisdom in things, and obviously he got a lot of that from a higher power. I saw the value immediately when I read it,” Mr. Sperry said.
“This is good for mankind, especially now with the turmoil,” Mr. Sperry said. He said many people seem to be losing hope, and with no hope of a better future or afterlife, they lose their morals as well, leading human beings to commit atrocities around the world.
But this loss of hope is “a fallacy,” Mr. Sperry said. “God doesn’t make things to end. He’s an eternal being, and so are we.”
Whether one ends up with eternal happiness or eternal misery is determined by the test of this life, he continued, and what we do with it. “So it’s so important in the 30, 50, 60, 70 years, whatever, what a person does, how they treat others.”
‘We Need to Be More Spiritual’
Ms. Elizabeth McDougal, retired from the health care industry, had similar feelings.
“I think we need to be more spiritual right now, with everything that’s going on in the world,” Ms. McDougal said. “And I think this,” she added, tapping on the article, “very much, really got my attention. We need to be more human.”
“He is right. Their teachings are correct. We just need to be,” Ms. McDougal said. “The article just blew my mind.”
Ms. McDougal has long known about the persecution of Falun Gong in China, and that the atheist communist regime was persecuting people of faith. But she hadn’t known what was taught in Falun Gong until reading the article.
“I’m a practicing Catholic, and I always have been, and I’ve got to tell you, if I had [Falun Gong] down the street from me, I’d be there in a heartbeat,” she said. “I was very impressed with everything that I read.”
Falun Gong is not a religion, though readers from a wide range of religious backgrounds have commented on the similarities they’ve found in the article with their own beliefs. Chinese culture, for 5,000 years before communist rule, was said to be divinely inspired, and its customs and traditions a gift from heaven. One of these traditions is the idea of spiritual cultivation, of following a way to better and perfect oneself spiritually.
Ms. McDougal was impressed with the idea that “we live again, that our physical body, dies, but our soul, our spirit comes back and we live again.”
“I just think that’s wonderful. I think that if we live a good human life and then we die, we come back, we’re going to come back as a better person, and hopefully we’re going to spread that to the rest of the human world, or to our families and friends and the people we’re exposed to,” she said. And this becomes a stepping stone to heaven, she added.
“[The article] made me look at my existence today, in this time, and this place, as very different,” she said. “I’ve always believed that when we died, our souls went to heaven, even as a practicing Catholic. I just think God, my God, is very merciful, caring, and loving God. And I don’t think we automatically go to heaven or hell. I think how we live our lives and how we approach our death determines where we end up.”
“To me, this says it very well. To me, what I got out of it was, be as human as you possibly can when you’re here, and remember that the divine, or when they talk about the divine I refer to as God,” she said. “It really just made me feel better when I was reading the whole thing. I’m not alone out there.”
“This to me was just a very good article on how we should live and how we should love,” Ms. McDougal said. “I think anyone who reads it would benefit from it, they would have to.”
After reading it, she printed out a copy of the article and has it on her kitchen counter so she can show it to her granddaughter when she visits. Ms. McDougal’s children were raised Catholic, and all her grandchildren were baptized as well, and while they are good people, they have lost faith. One of them is struggling right now, without spirituality, and Ms. McDougal said “if you don’t have faith, you’re lost.”
“We need their generation to be wholly—not holy—well, yeah I do mean holy. They need to have faith in something,” she said.